Survey Summary: HWDT 7

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A beautiful evening greeted us in Tobermory for the start of HWDT07. Our citizen scientists joined us on board, after travelling from all over the UK, as well as the Netherlands and west coast USA. After sitting down for a lovely meal, we sat around the table and learnt about all the marine mammals that we might be lucky enough to see, as well as the best techniques for spotting them. We left the next day full of excitement, sailing across to Tiree, spotting several seals and harbour porpoise along the way.

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During the survey, which ran from 17th – 25th of July, Silurian travelled over 294 nautical miles, collecting visual and acoustic data. Our newly trained citizen scientists spent over 48 hours on effort scanning the waters looking for marine mega fauna!

 Track lines for HWDT07

Track lines for HWDT07

Focusing on the southern region of our survey area, we surveyed the waters around Mull, Coll, Tiree, Islay and Jura. One evening we even had the opportunity to anchor at the beautiful island of Lunga, the largest of the Treshnish Isles, where we went ashore and to visit the 2000+ pairs of puffins that nest there. We also encountered a plethora of other seabirds including guillemots, razorbills and kittiwakes. During the survey we also counted 3,710 birds out to sea.

 One of over 2,000 pairs of puffins nesting on the island of Lunga

One of over 2,000 pairs of puffins nesting on the island of Lunga

 A razorbill showing off it's very distinctive bill! 

A razorbill showing off it's very distinctive bill! 

We also had some amazing marine mammal encounters, sighting five species of marine mammals, including minke whales, Risso’s dolphins, harbour porpoise, grey and common seals. A particular highlight was our encounter with a pod of Risso’s dolphins to the west of Coll. Included in this pod were several pairs of adult females with new calves, who even still had foetal folds, suggesting that they were two weeks old or under.

 One of the Risso's dolphins breached repeatedly out of the water...

One of the Risso's dolphins breached repeatedly out of the water...

 ....before performing some impressive tail slaps!

....before performing some impressive tail slaps!

We were also treated to a close encounter with a minke whale, which surfaced right next to the bow of the boat, while two more minkes surfaced in the distance! An amazing encounter for everyone on board.

 One minke whale surfaced right next to the boat!

One minke whale surfaced right next to the boat!

Massive thanks to the citizen scientist team who joined us on board: Jake, Paul, Paula, Kevin Josie and Colin- we couldn't collect the vital data without you.

Thanks also to Scottish Natural Heritage who help fund the data collection programme aboard Silurian.

Feeling inspired to get involved with our marine conservation efforts? It’s not too late to join us on board this season! We still have a few spaces on trips this season, including those departing from Ullapool, which gives us the opportunity to collect data from the northern reaches of our survey area, as well as a better chance of seeing another pod of Risso’s dolphins!